The mother of a Whitchurch-born and educated astrophysicist believes her son's recent doctorate award could inspire youngsters in and around the town.

Davina Radcliffe, who lives in Belton Road, spoke of her pride at son Jack's, 27, recent double PhD award in Manchester and Groningen, in the Netherlands, before he now departs for South Africa to work on the MeerKAT telescope and eventually the SKA telescope.

And she praised her son for his consistently hard-working attitude in his school and university days.

"We're 100 per cent proud of him," Said Mrs Radcliffe.

"He was always interested in things like volcanoes growing up.

"When he read, it was always books like encyclopaedias.

"Jack was head boy at Sir John Talbot's – we're so proud of him; we're by no means pushy parents, which you hear of, because he pushed himself to work all the time.

"I think his story can inspire lots of young people in the area to follow their dreams. I hope it may even just encourage one person to follow in his footsteps."

Jack, whose wife Dhita lives in Indonesia, will be making the move to South Africa later this month, works for the Manchester Square Kilometre Array, and will be teaching local students with a love for astrophysics, as well further pushing the boundaries of science in space.

He admits he is delighted to be taking part, looking forward to his new role, and is very proud of his own career so far.

"My role there is to facilitate the linking of these telescopes with others around the world so we can see immense detail in distant galaxies," he said.

"This is the same technique that was used to provide the first direct image of the black hole that was on the news a few weeks ago.

"As part of this role, there is the Development in Africa with Radio Astronomy project, which I am involved in. The SKA will have telescopes across sub-saharan Africa as part of the African VLBI Network.

"We aim to provide students from multiple countries (e.g. Zambia, Kenya, Botswana, Mozambique) with opportunities to get into astronomy and/or gain STEM skills which they can use to help develop the economy in their own countries.

"I did my PhD across both universities, and to be involved in things like this has been a driving ambition.

"I'm looking forward to the next challenge that this is going to bring.

"My mum and dad have always supported me all the way. It's been difficult because I've spent a long time away working all over the globe."